Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Use the "Godquest" (Mapquest) which is actually the Bible and He will lead each of you in the right way!
"Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower-- Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color. Mountain glories of Lebanon--a gift. Awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon--gifts. GOD's resplendent glory, fully on display. GOD awesome, GOD majestic.
Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls, "Courage! Take heart! GOD is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He's on his way! He'll save you!"
Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, Lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song. Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert.
Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain. Even lowly jackals will have water to drink, and barren grasslands flourish richly.
There will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road. It's for GOD's people exclusively-- impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it.
No lions on this road, no dangerous wild animals-- Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening. Only the redeemed will walk on it. The people GOD has ransomed will come back on this road.
They'll sing as they make their way home to Zion, unfading halos of joy encircling their heads, Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night." Isaiah 35:1-10 (msg)
"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6 (nas)
It's easy! Believe in Jesus, repent of your sins, confess that Jesus is Lord, be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:36-38, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:1-4, Galatians 3:26-27) and live your life like Jesus (Christlikeness)!
In other words, those who believe in Jesus, repented of their sins, confessed that He is the Lord and that we're separated from God because of sin, baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and now living for Jesus, they are "dead to themselves". We shouldn't live for self anymore. It's not what "we" want but what "God" desires. It is a "sin" to do what SIN wants you to do. It is the opposite of the Great Commandment:
"And He said to him, " `YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "The second is like it, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' " Matthew 22:37-39 (nas)
Jesus gave this Great Commandment. Hey! Come on, man! Here Da man, Jesus! It's a commandment; a command for us believers to follow. Now, the first is, Love the Lord by worshipping Him! "`YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" Matthew 4:10 (nas)
And the second, probably the most difficult for everyone to follow, as commanded by the Lord Jesus, Love Your Neighbor AS YOURSELF! Beautiful, huh? It doesn't matter if someone you know is annoying, intimidating, rash, rude, self-seeking, backstabber, and the list goes on again! But we end up questioning God, ""And who is my neighbor?" Luke 10:29 (nas) In Luke 10, a lawyer, apparently a Jew, asked Jesus this question after hearing Jesus give them the two greatest commandments. Jesus told a story about a man being beaten by robbers and left on the road to die. He used three different men with different backgrounds: a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. Both the priest and Levite (Jews) did not help but passed this dying man except for the Samaritan. Remember, the Jews hated the Samaritans but Jesus is using this to pinpoint who they (Jews) are to love, even their neighbors (the Samaritans in the north)!
Remember you are "dead to self". You're not, "you" anymore but Christ is in you (Galatians 2:20)! If Christ is in you, you're seeing people through the "lens of Christ". Would Christ belittle others? Would He gossip against others? Would He try to ruin the reputation of others? "Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude." Ephesians 4:31 (cev) Because "Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." Romans 8:8 (niv) You cannot please God this way. You're not only hurting yourselves but you're hurting the church (believers) by talking, thinking, or acting this way! So what do we do? Well, if you've been a Christian for a long time, you need to realize you're going through this "elementary teachings all over again.." and that you're still stuck on milk. Open your hearts, people! Taste that the Lord is good, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,.." 1 Peter 2:2 (niv) Grow further from this evil behavior! See, even though, you're dead to self, let the Spirit of God grow up in you! So stop sinning profusely, whether always been bitter, or self-seeking, or backstabbing, or gossipping, or being negative, we need understand one thing:
Monday, June 27, 2005
Yesterday's worship was fantastic! Mario Ascencio, from Manassas, Va., came forward repenting of his sins. He was baptized about 10 years ago but fell away from the Lord after 4 years of devotion. I can see in his heart that he's hungry to serve God. Welcome, brother Ascencio, to the family of God!
In addition to this, I asked Bert Reins, father of Al Reins, from Riverside, Ca., to lead us a closing prayer. He's a preacher with a non-denominational church in Ca. I have been thinking alot of what Bert said in regards to all the deaf preachers all over the world and the members of the church. Bert is a very warm and exciting man of God. He's full of Spirit and love. He's always saying, "Amen!" when he sees the Word of God preached! But I can see that he aches deep in his heart. He aches for those who have been called to serve. But they run into roadblocks along faith's highway. Michelle and I talked about his testimony and strongly feel that every member ought to take careful note of what he is saying. After Bert shared with us his testimony, a couple of members continue to "complain" about a number of things surrounding the Fairfax church. It hit the very core of my heart thinking how they could have missed such a great testimony, put it to heart, and pray that Jesus will help them, that they will begin to think of others then pray that God will work in every person's life. Don't they realize they're doing the work of Satan by complaining about other things?
I am trying to find words to explain this but I feel the same what Jesus had felt when he tried to do the same with His disciples. He explained things in parables, in ways that men and women should understand. But they couldn't grasp the true meaning Jesus had taught because they were "dull of hearing". It is like a "veil" covering their eyes (2 Corinthians 3:14) preventing them from seeing the absolute truth, the truth that leads them to reap the abundant blessings in life! They heard Jesus' teachings but it didn't pierce their hearts. They understood the meaning in some ways but it didn't change them. Jesus warned them about many things but they stumbled into the things Jesus warned them about! Often, Jesus said,
He is just as frustrated as many of us are. Jesus still sees His followers "still so dull" in many things Jesus taught. Perhaps, they are simply just stubborn. They are looking for something else rather than fixing their eyes on the eternal! They see things through the "worldly lens" rather than the "lens of God". They are merely seeing physical things rather than spiritual. They want physical power instead of living in the blessedness of spiritual power! They fought about who is to be "second and third in command" rather than being humble and last instead of proud and first. They scattered away after the arrest of Jesus Christ, our Lord. They watched Jesus suffer and be ridiculed from the distance. Peter heard the rooster crows! Even, after three years of being with Jesus (everyday), they were still "so dull"!
During the winter quarter, I taught the book of Hebrews and the situation is similar to many churches in the U.S., today! Unsure of whom the writer of the book of Hebrews was (possibily Paul), he works with the Jewish (Christian) readers persuading them to keep hold of our Lord Jesus Christ (truth) and not fall away from the truth into the Law (following the Old Testament). "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food." Hebrews 5:12 (nas) I believe we have many deaf Christians who are "still so dull" because they, again, have to understand the very basic (elementary) principles God had given to us through Jesus! A couple of things I noticed in the church today (I, even, get emails with concerns about the Lord's members in His church worldwide!):
- They have become lazy and have no desire to serve God.
- They constantly miss worship services for the sake of: time, children, mixed priorities and other plans that appears more important than God.
- They do not attend bible classes which is where we get the "elementary principles" preparing us to eat "solid food"!
- They quarrel among each other about what was being taught. (Instead, we ought to go up to the teacher, in private, and ask for explanation of what was being taught preventing confusion among the church.)
- Two members discuss among each other criticism against a person, the church, or things they do not like happening or not getting anything from the church. (Instead, they ought to be discussing ways to change the negatives to positives. We must avoid giving Satan a foothold! (Ephesians 4:27))
- There are favoritism within the body of Christ (James 2:1, 9)
- They church failed to "Show Jesus" to the Lord's visitors. We merely have neglected them and failed to welcome them.
There's more, really.. But don't let this discourage you! We are to take heart because there will always be trouble in the world. We have Christ who is able to help us overcome these things, together. Think about these things. Whose side are you on: Satan's or God's. Well, I do hope you're on God's side. When you are on God's side, you're working to make things better for God's glory instead of dwelling on the negatives. We're to be positive and outgoing people. I don't care what the problems are or how many problems we have, I believe that's great we have a problem. But with a positive attitude and being filled with the power of God through His Spirit, we're able to overcome these things. Otherwise, you may have been overcome by Satan and are being pulled down by the weight of negativity! When you're being pulled down, you're "dull". I am not saying that you're lost. No! You're just a weaker vessel of God. You need help. You need to be fed with God's Word. You need to be strengthened in the Spirit (Colossians 2:7)! You need to be rooted in Christ (The Vine)! You need to repent of these sins. You need to change (metamorphosis!). You need to do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus!
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17 (niv)
So, stop being dull! Snap yourselves out of it! Eliminate things that pulls not only you but the church, even all the preachers and leaders who works hard:
"Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you." 1 Thessalonians 5:12 (niv)
Think of what Bert Reins shared with us. Pray about this and ask God what He can do with your life and those among you. That's all you have to do: just ask Him to eliminate the dullness of your seeing and become a Christian with sharp seeing (knowledge and Spirit and love and compassion and PASSION!)
Sunday, June 26, 2005
There are few things more coveted than freedom. People die for it. People pray for it. People strive for it. True freedom comes from knowing "truth." Knowing truth ultimately comes by living in obedience to Jesus. In John 8:31, before understanding how the truth sets you free, we ought to "..hold to my (Jesus') teaching.." then "you are really his disciples." If you do not know His teachings, if you don't read the Bible, if you don't learn and imitate Jesus, then you're not holding to His teachings. Therefore you're not His disciple (follower) nor did the truth set you free?
Truth is not just something you simply think about or believe. "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder." James 2:19 (niv)
Truth is something you do, you live (James 2).
This morning, I asked the church to memorize this 1-2-3-4 (John) verses for this week. I pray that this does hit the core of your heart. We cannot simply say, "I believe God" and do the things God does not want us to do. I have seen many "so-called Christians" who claims to "know and love Jesus" but doesn't follow the Scriptures or live an obedient life. That certain person is a liar! Read 1 John 2:3-4:
"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1 John 2:3-4 (niv)
"If someone claims, "I know him well!" but doesn't keep his commandments, he's obviously a liar. His life doesn't match his words." 1 John 2:4 (msg)
Indeed, if the person doesn't keep His commandments, then that certain person is a liar, even if he or she calls him/herself a Christian. Why? Because the person's life doesn't match Jesus!
Jesus' teaching often ends with the exclamation: Blessed are you who do these things! Only by doing will we ever know the truth that liberates us.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
I am studying Galatians, chapter 2, for tomorrow's PowerSource (bible study) and by the time I got to my favorite verse of Galatians (2:20), I stumbled with a thought, "Living A Crucified Life". Let me ask you a question, "Are you living a crucified life?" If you were to ask me the same question, then my answer would be a simple, "No." You may wonder why? That's fine.
Are you living the crucified life?"
There was a man who asked a minister the question and the discussion goes on. The man replied to the minister whether if he is living a crucified life or not, "I am trying to." The minister said to him, "You are either living it, or you are not living it. The fact of the matter is you cannot live it." "Oh," the man said, "why can't I?" So the minister pointed out to him that there is something interesting to note about crucifixion.
You can commit suicide in many different ways. You can hang yourself, shoot yourself, take poison, jump off a high building, or jump in front of a truck. There are many ways to end your life, but you cannot crucify yourself.
When you nail one hand to the cross, who is going to nail your other hand to the cross? You cannot do it yourself. You must understand what Paul is talking about when he says,
"I am crucified with Christ."
Paul was crucified with Christ when Christ died. Christ died a substitutionary death. He died for Paul. He died for you. He died for me.
In Romans 6, we are told that we have been buried with Christ by baptism, by identification. We have been raised with Him in newness of life, and now we are joined to the living Christ. Paul says that we do not know Him any more after the flesh. He is not the Man of Galilee walking around the Sea of Galilee. I walked about in that area some time ago and did not see Him; He is not there today. He is at God's right hand. He is the glorified Christ.
Paul is saying, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live." You see, the Law (Ten Commandments) executed us because we didn't follow them. The Law could not give us life.
Who gave us life? "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live."
How do you live? "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."
Friends, that is the important thing. He died for me down here that I might live in Him up in Heaven and that He might live in me down here. "And the life," Paul says, "which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God."
What kind of life is this? It is a life of faith (Romans 10:17) -- saved by faith, live by faith, walk by faith. This is what it means to "Living A Crucified Life", living by faith!
Friday, June 24, 2005
As I approached the entrance of the restaurant, the lady was standing there greeting me. She said, "Welcome to Don Pablos! And I see you have your bible with you." I was like, "Wow! What kind of remark is that?" I don't get that all too often, especially at a restaurant! Then as Mario and I stepped into the restaurant, there were two hostesses standing by. They were smiling at us and "excitingly" welcomed us. Bam! Two welcomes in a row! As one of the hostesses lead us to our table, our waiter (and a training waiter) came to us immediately and welcomed us to the restaurant with smiles! A "Three-punch welcome" from Don Pablos. I was very impressed with the service they gave us. It was not like before! They seems to ante up their momentum of service toward their customers. I told Mario that I must share this with my Bloggers!! What a welcoming service!!
Churches all over the world ought to have that, "A Welcoming Service". From the moment your visitors approach the door (or even out in the parking lot), to the foyer then in the worship and classroom, they should receive the "three-punch welcome service" from the church. The Lord's church are to "invest hard work" into welcoming our visitors. Or they may never return to church again because we do not give them the impression they're looking for. We need to know why we're doing what we do or else we'll be defeated by disappointment. Often, I get a couple of comments from our visitors that Fairfax isn't a friendly and spiritual church. They may be right, in some ways, because we are very young in our faith and we're growing out of it. It's not always "us" but it's also "them" that needs work. I, often, use the "speck and plank line" Jesus used in Matthew 7. Most of the time, the problem lies within you, not the outside! Just a couple of "checkpoints" every church need to do:
1. Is everything done in a "fitting and orderly way"? (1 Corinthians 14:40)
I believe this verse implies that planning, evaluating, and improving our services is a proper thing to do. A minister cannot do this all on his own. He needs his members to do some work. Both the worship of God and the evangelizing of people deserve our best effort.
2. Do we know why we bother going through the pains of bridging the cultural gap between the church and unchurched?
We do it all for "Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5)
Satan may throw darts of "self-pity" at you and me: why should "you" have to do all the set up and clean up? Most of the ministers do almost nothing while I have to do all of these things. Why can't I talk to my "best friend" and let the visitors worry about themselves? If they like it, "Good!" If not, well, sorry we can't be "your friend".
Well, I hope you are able to recognize that you're enjoying your "self-pity" party. But the Holy Spirit will, indeed, tap on your shoulder and say, "Who are you doing this for anyway??" What has Jesus done for you that you haven't done for them (visitors)? It is nothing compared to what Jesus had done for you and me! We need to break down the "self-pity" attitude and repent. We are to have the "other-centered" heart for those without Christ!
And the final question:
3. Are you serving the Lord Jesus Christ? (Colossians 3:23-24)
I am not saying that we "please people". No. We please God by putting our utmost attention on our visitors. We welcome them with open arms. When our visitors comes to worship with us, we ought to pray for them throughout the services and most importantly, we make ourselves known to them and get to know them. In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people. Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, which he promised to his people.
With the example Don Pablos gave me, it surely made me want to come back and eat there again. I really appreciated their services and I saw great improvement in the "welcoming service". What about the Lord's church? Are we greeting our visitors with excitement, love or are we mingling around with the 'ole faithfuls' and having a good ole chat about whatever needs to be talked about and, at the same time, neglecting the "seeker sensitive people"? Save that conversation for a lunch appointment. Have a conversation with the "uncommitted"!
Let's be sensitive in the area of welcoming people to the Lord's church! If you're not, then seriously, you're making it difficult for His church to grow because of your influence and attitude! If you're grateful that you're with the Lord, then you'll want those who are "seeking" to have that same gratefulness! Amen? I hope so!!!
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
"And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (nas)
We may ask for Him to ease our pains, turmoil, struggles but He said that His grace is sufficient and that His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. Picture a cancer patient who gives a positive attitude, all smiles, and joyful and patient in their affliction. We know this person relies heavily on God because he/she knows life will end but eternal life remains on those who believe in Jesus.
Your grace is sufficient for me. Your power is made perfect in weakness.
When I am weak, Christ's power can assist, shine through, lift me up.
Please let this happen!
For Christ's sake help me to be content with whatever you let come my way - weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities - for when I am weak, then I am strong!
Let me be strong with your strength even when beset by my own weaknesses.
In the name of him who is my strength, Jesus Christ. Amen!
"..who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:4 (nas)
I have added more resources, links and blogs for you to check out!
BLOGS: Mike Cope, Bruce Black and Brandon Scott Thomas (BST)
WEB LINKS: Christianity Today, Heartlight, Study Light, Literature Ministries, Interactive Bible.
Today has been a crazy day. But it was a great day. I talked with a wonderful couple this morning and met with Murray Sanderson for lunch discussing the future of the deaf ministry: relationship, fellowship, maturity and spirituality. I shared with Murray some of our weaknesses and strengths. We had a great discussion about both worlds (deaf and hearing). I shared with him my thoughts and feelings regarding the deaf work here in D.C.. It seems like the Spirit in me wants us to move on to another field ripe for harvest where souls are hungry for God, to grow and to serve. But, then, I told Murray that everyday is a new day here at Fairfax. When we fail to serve God, we start over again.
When the Spirit's fire has died, we, as family, work to revive Him in us again. When we have become too busy to do the Lord's will, we sit down and re-prioritize our daily life. When we have a conflict with a fellow member, we go to them and work on forgiveness. When the fellowship isn't going the way you and I think, we work together to bring the fellowship back, God's way. I know some of you have talked among one another about how weak the fellowship is at Fairfax. Reading the book, "DNA of Relationships", Gary Smalley said it perfectly that "..the problem lies not on the people or situation "outside", it lies within the person!" We cannot just simply sit back and complain about it. We are to move forward and work to build stronger relationships and fellowship. I just get tired of hearing people telling me a thing or two that is not to their liking and do nothing about it.
You may know that the book of Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Here's what Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:
"But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;.." Philippians 1:23-27 (nas)
The Apostle wanted to die and be with Christ which is so much better. And I agree! But he knows it was necessary to remain alive for the sake of all the churches of Christ. He wanted the church to have confidence in Paul when he comes again to visit and to be an encouragement to the church. Until then, he encouraged them to conduct themselves in a manner "worthy of the gospel of Christ." And that they are standing firm in "one spirit and mind"!
In some ways, Paul's feeling is mutual. In some ways, I want to depart and seek other opportunities where a church are hungry to serve God among the deaf community, being the best example of Christ, and that the unity in the Lord's church is strong with one spirit and one mind working together for the faith of the gospel. I am aware that every church has her own weaknesses. Right now and Lord willing, I know that we must remain with the church at Fairfax for your sake. We have a desire to continue on with you all to continue working on your progresses and joy in the faith. Paul encouraged brother Timothy to instruct the church he is at to be diligent in faith and lead a holy life so that everyone will see Jesus in us. We need to be eager to grow in the faith (Romans 10:17). We need to lead a holy life so that people around us (family and friends) will see Jesus.
"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress." 1 Timothy 4:15 (niv)
I am sorry if this doesn't seem to be a good blog for some of you. Consider this a "wake-up call". I want to say that it's a real blessing to be at Fairfax. I know it will be a blessing to be just about any churches of Christ in the world. I know the Lord will tell us "when" it is "time". There are other churches hungry to start a fresh deaf work. I am just as hungry as they are, too! I love working with faithful people who are hungry to worship, learn, to serve, to grow and to reach out. I love helping people grow to become faithful Christians. We need to consider our "weaknesses" as our strength. Alot of us don't realize that. Instead of splashing around, pouting in a puddle of "weakness", we move forward with a proud feeling that we're strong through our weaknesses.
Let's consider each day, a new day. Let's work together to bring God the glory! Let's build better relationships, even working with difficult ones. Let's not be "self-centered" but "other-centered". Keep on reading the Bible (daily), Blogs and growing in Him.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Yesterday, we had a handful coming together. Carl and Nina Moore came to Fairfax and it was great seeing them. We love them with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strengths. I gave Carl the opportunity to preach God's Word to us and he did a very good job. It was a long lesson but he gave it with all of his heart. He PREACHED the Word, and that's what's important! I was so glued to all of the Scriptures he used for his lesson, "Why Should We Obey God?". So glued that I hardly ever notice the time, I just didn't care (time) because it is God who is speaking to us. If I were to limit Carl with a "time", I am limiting God. But, of course, it's important that the congregation gets His message in a clear way with a clear mind. Thank you, Carl, for preaching His message. You have helped us in understanding that "obedience" is very important. Amen!
I want to talk a little about holiness. Both you and I know God is extremely holy. There's no wrong in Him. There's no blemish. There's no defect. He's an omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscience (all-knowing) and omnipresence (everywhere - all places) God! Amen!?
"I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy." Leviticus 11:44 (niv)
God has always and will always be in the presence of His children. During the days of Israel, God walked with them through the wilderness just as He is doing today! Israel has always stood before the Lord because His tabernacle can be seen. Israel devoted their time and life to the Lord. So they actually worshipped God, E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y, including on a sabbath which was very important to God. Sabbath is a day of rest because God rested on the seventh day! It is a day to look back on all God had done for Israel. When they come into the presence of the Lord just like Moses did, they are standing on the Holy Ground!
"Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:5 (niv)
Though, God knows all we're doing (motives), where we are (presence), what we're thinking (understanding), we're standing on the Holy Ground. Instead of Israel being able to see God in the tabernacle, from the world, we see God sitting on His throne in Heaven. He's watching us from the throne room: watching our every moves, every thought; in your homes, on the road, in your workplace, and in your heart. We are to be "a people who are "holy":
"..for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession." Deuteronomy 14:2 (niv)
Awesome! We're His prized possession. He cares for us. He choses us. But we have to choose Him, first. He wants us to love and obey Him. He wants us to be holy covered with the blood of Christ. He wants us to be ".. a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God,.." 1 Peter 2:9 (niv)
Isn't that what His church ought to be? Priesthood of God aren't people who are lazy or bored about their relationship with God! They aren't a group of people worrying about time spent in worship. They are people who "Cry Holy!" to the Lord! They are people who open the eyes of their hearts to the Lord and ask Him to feed them with His love and Word! They are people who are "..true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." John 4:23 (niv) God seeks a church that is spiritual and seeking the truth! Sing this song, over and over!
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see You. I want to see You.
To see You high and lifted up,
Shining in the midst of Your glory,
Lord, pour out Your power and love,
As we sing, Holy, holy, holy!
And we cry, Holy, holy, holy!
Holy, holy, holy!
I want to see You!
When we"cry holy" asking God to continue to bless us, God will see each of us as His prized possession.
Cry holy to our Lord, daily!
Saturday, June 18, 2005
This was taken, as what my aunt, Marge, said, "Many Moons Ago!" My dad is pictured in the back row (first of the three, my brother, Matt, in white preppie shirt). You can see me directly below my cousin, Kevin, the only one with a hat and shades. It's a long story. Ha! In my blog, "God, Happy Father's Day", that's the smile that touched my heart. Thank you, dad, for being an example to me. Now, I smile to everyone I meet. That's the beauty God made!
My aunt, Marge Ryder, sent me an email with a picture attached of the whole family during one of our summer family reunion years ago. I saw my dad, all smiles, in the rear. When I saw the smile he portrayed, it hit me hard! But those years have been wonderful! Now, I can see how fragile life is. With my dad having Parkinsons, you just never know what will hit us. One day, we all must be prepared to appear before God. I believe "obedience" needs to be in check before we depart from this life.
"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." John 14:21 (nas)
Therefore, we only live once so I am very thankful for my dad. But now, I am even more thankful for my Father in Heaven. He's the Provider of all things. He is a patient God. He doesn't want everyone to be destroyed but to come to the knowledge of the truth. He loves us and that's the reason why He sent His Son to die for us for our sins. He blesses us over and over, more than you can ever imagine. Despite of all the fathers in the world today, whether good or bad, we have One Perfect Father who is in Heaven that cares for each of us! That's the Father we all need everyday!
God, Happy Father's Day!
Friday, June 17, 2005
I just read a comment from a dear sister in Christ of mine. She pointed out to me that it was another guy who commented, "Some or most of us talk the talk but not walk the talk". It wasn't Paul Dymoke who quoted this last Sunday, it was brother Matt Sickon. Well, I am only human because my "human" mind was telling me that there's a resemblance: Two Mr. Shorty. They both are "short", excuse me for saying this, fellas. ; ) And they both have "short" hair. But, there was an evidence present. Matt's DNA and Spirit was in the room last Sunday while Paul was not. : ) So it was Matt who quoted, "Walk the Talk"! Thanks, Brenda, for pointing this out to me. : )
Michelle and I were working on assembling a new desk for our office yesterday. It took us about 3 1/2 hours to complete one desk! We're going to work on the other one today! While I was nearing the completion of the first desk, I stumbled into a roadblock.
All but one drawer fits into the desk. I struggled with one and read the instructions again to make sure I assembled this one drawer correctly. I thought I had it all "perfected" until the very last one, it wasn't. I realized that it wasn't assembled correctly and finally declared that I wasn't perfect in building this desk. It was a bit frustrating and disappointing because I wanted to complete this project and go home!
I took apart the pieces of that one drawer to make necessary corrections but ran into another roadblock. After many trips from the instruction guide to the wood, I realized that it wasn't me that was imperfect. It was the wood. I had been deceived. I believed that "I" made a mistake by not following the instructions correctly. I listened to "me" thinking it was "me" that did it all wrong. The instructions were correct but the wood didn't have the holes in the right place. It was the "wood" that wasn't perfect. It was defective. It didn't match the layout on the instruction sheet. I see a strong resemblance here. It's a battle between us and Satan.
"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44 (niv)
I see the "defective wood" as Satan and the "instruction" as the Bible. Remember, Satan "..himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14 (niv)), is a Deceiver and a Liar. He displays incidences, issues, and other things making us think we made a mistake and did not follow the Bible correctly. It is as if there's something wrong with the "object" (incidences and issues) that the holes were not in the right place. It is Satan's job to make you feel miserable. He wants you to feel disappointed that you didn't fulfill the Lord's will. But you didn't realize that it was Satan that had it all planned. Though, we're all human beings, we make mistakes, yes. And other times, we have done the right thing, Satan is there to make sure you're thinking you didn't! Remember, we need to think that we are "perfect"! Even though, we're unperfect (fleshly), still perfect (in Spirit). How is that?
"We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." James 3:2 (niv)
You will know you're doing the Godly thing, everyday! And Satan will make sure you think the opposite! Even though, we all stumble in many ways, check yourselves and make sure you're saying the right words and doing the right things. It may not be "you", but it may be Satan doing his thing. Then you will know you have kept your whole body in "check" and is perfect (not that you obtain righteousness on your own, we need Jesus to make ourselves right with God! Remember, no one is good!)
Jesus said, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48 (niv)
"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ." Colossians 1:28 (niv)
Then go: PROCLAIM JESUS, ADMONISH OTHERS IN JESUS, AND TEACH ABOUT JESUS!
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
"Those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.." (Acts 8:4).
I like what Charles Colson wrote, “... when we Christians take the biblical message to heart and have the courage to live in obedience to Christ’s radical commands, we are compelled not only to preach the Gospel, but to take it into the world and live it out...”
It is possible that the today's church has forgotten a most important ingredient in evangelism: a proclamation of the gospel from the base of a life that reflects the gospel. It is not a new problem for even the early church struggled with living in harmony with God’s will.
“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,” Paul said to the Ephesian church.
“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,” he wrote to the Philippians.
“Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” he encouraged the Colossians.
Twice to the Thessalonians, he made similar statements.
But we tend to leave it out of the practical living of life! So what do we do? How do we convince the "believers" to do Jesus' Great Commission? So, what's the REAL PROBLEM?
I’m sure it relates to weakness of faith and commitment. I have no doubt it’s because temptation is strong, and the weakness of the flesh leads us to act in ways we know are wrong. It is the Christian’s constant struggle. So, whatever I say here, understand that it is said knowing and acknowledging our imperfections, weaknesses and struggles.
An author, Mr. Denton, wrote about Evangelism which makes perfect sense:
"I believe there are two major roadblocks to evangelizing the world. The first is that we simply do not preach and teach the gospel enough. We’re too quiet. We don’t want to offend, insult or impose ourselves on friends, family, and neighbors. That’s good... to a point, but silence never converted anyone. (OUCH!) Second, when we do speak about the gospel, the first thing people think about is that the Christians they know don’t seem to be living like this gospel. (Very true!) There is often a decided conflict between our message and our conduct."
Brother Paul Dymoke shared with us, last Sunday during Bible class, that many Christians (or so-called Christians) "Talk the talk but do not Walk the talk!" We have many who is just only talking faith, not talking and walking faith.
God is calling us all into the world to share the good news. But first, are we worthy of the gospel? Are we walking the talk? Are we the "Walking and Living Bible"? We know God is a Holy God. Since we're sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)! Sanctification of our conduct is a "consistent" moving away from sin and corruption while moving toward righteousness, goodness, and godliness. The message we share with people is about forgiveness of sins; it is not how to be comfortable with sin.
The person who enjoys spiritual health and who is best equipped to share the gospel with others is not the person who has never sinned or never struggles with sin, but the person whose life shows that the gospel is effective both in forgiving sin and in changing the life of the sinner. Did you see that? A strong Christian is still a sinner. If we want to give hope to a world deep in the pit of sin, we must be able to show that Jesus not only saves and redeems for eternity, but he also saves and redeems right now!
Come, let us be worthy of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, today!
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Here's a pic of my daughter, Alyson, on her birthday last week. She was thrilled to get her "Volcano Cake" where the server put sparklers in a humongous dip of vanilla ice cream layered with hot fudge on top of delicious warm brownies and "walled" with brownies. I wrestle with words on the last part of this, "walled" because four long brownies were actually posed as a layer of mountain (dirt, if I may say) resting on the ice cream as well as one at the bottom of it.
Well, happy birthday, Princess!
Don't forget the verse of the week:
"Here is a trustworthy that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 1:15 (niv)
Monday, June 13, 2005
It's been a great Sunday! We're still focusing on evangelism. Please scroll down to "Harvest DC" and read my blog about the importance of evangelism. It's one of the most important ministry God desires to see "active" but the least done in the church. The members of the Lord's church simply just open the door and wait for people out in the world to just show up. It is highly likely "not" going to happen. If we continue to do this, we're probably looking at a mere 2% chance people will just show up because they saw the church on a web or newspaper or via word-of-mouth. Most of the time, they're just passing through and checking us out. They need to be invited. They need an impact. They need to feel welcome. God wants them to be recognized as a prize possession. They would appreciate the thought of us inviting them to church. Ask them to meet for breakfast before worship or class time. Invite them in your home and get to know them. Give them your testimony, if God truly has made a huge impact in your life, about how God is working in your life and the lives of others. Be an influential person, influencing the love of Jesus.
Michelle and I were watching a movie, "Ladder 49" about a fireman by the name, Jack, whom, after the floor caved in, fell a couple of stories down in the middle of a huge ring of debris and fire. He was trapped. All the firemen from different units raced to find him and bring him to safety. While Jack was waiting for the rescue team, he looked back to the great times he had with his "fire brothers and his wife". One scene shows the firemen relaxing, reading newspaper, talking, playing pool and even wrestling together. They weep for one of their fallen brother. They embrace each other like they are a family. When they quarrel, the captain would come up to them and scold them to stay together and be a family that they are not to fight among each other but fight against fire!
Isn't this what God wants in His church? He wants to see His children not fighting among each other but loving, supporting, praying, encouraging, building each other up. The only fight they ought to fight against is: Satan and Sin. If we quarrel against each other, do you think you would hear God, our captain, telling us through His Word that we're to stay together and be a family. Of course, there will always be problems in His church and that's how we grow and be a strong family. Yet, when someone comes and visit or if one of you invites a friend to church, I strongly believe they would like to see a church that ties together like a family. We shouldn't act holier than them because we're simply "members of the church". We shouldn't classify ourselves like members of God's "country club" where we're a "stuck up" to our visitors. We're a normal people on normal Sunday.
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men." Matthew 5:13 (nas)
How is your attitude before the people (unchurched) in the world?
How do you respond to them (rude, blunt or pleasant, understanding)?
Are they tasting the fruitfulness of God that you're reflecting on them?
Are you "Showing Jesus"?
What do they see in you that, perhaps, you don't see in you (negative)?
If you have become "tasteless", do you know how you can be "tasty" again (repentance)?
Are you seeking, "my-way" or "God's way"? ("my-way" is tasteless while "God's way", tasty!)
Remember, we have a very "unpopular message" to give to the world. Yet, it is, with great privilege, to share the "good news of Jesus" to them! Not only we're showing them the good news, we ought to reflect the beauty of our Lord to them using Christ-like examples that He left with His Disciples, then eventually passed it on to us and us to the world!
May I ask that we pray for all the "married's" in the world today: both deaf and hearing. Divorce is growing at a "fast pace" rate and it is not only destroying the spouses, but the children in the world! They (children) are being influenced with the "divorce life" and eventually will follow the same pattern as their parents did. It is my prayer that the Lord will help all of His leaders to put a stop to it: influencing the parents (fragile or not) and the children in the world the love of God!
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Today is our third daughter's birthday (Alyson). She turned 6!! Happy birthday, Princess! She loves to be called a "Princess"! It's really hard to believe how fast our kids have grown: Amanda is now 9 1/2 years old and has less than 7 months left before she hits the double digit age! Angela is 7 but will be a whooping 8 years old this October!
Well! Our kids are screaming in the house, in the car, outside, in the bathroom and in their bedrooms. Michelle and I are deaf and they still can blow out our ears using their high frequency squeals! Now, we have a spiritual vertigo! They're ultimately, hilliariously, squealingly crazy about going to the Jump5 concert tomorrow night! They are excited to see Brittany, Brandon, Lesley and Chris sing with us praising the Lord. Amanda just told me that she likes the fifth girl in the group whom had to leave the Jump5 group for personal reasons. I don't remember her name but we do wish her God's blessings as she continues to move on through other avenues, prayerfully, serving God.
Well, bloggers! Have a great weekend! If I can't hear you, that means I probably have become deafer than deaf.
Blessed Be His Name!
Then another problem came up! Our black labrador retriever, Hope, hasn't been feeling all too well, either! The other day, she chewed on a piece of towel and swallowed a chunk of it. She was resting in her crate and objected in there along with all the objects tangling on her hair. It wasn't a pretty thing. Despite my having the sinuses, I had to give her a quick bath and clean out her crate. Then decided to take her to the ER to see if there's any more obstructions in her body. Well, after two x-rays, there weren't any more because she objected the ball of towel!! I am sorry for being so graphic about this but it's reality! I learned something about labs. The doctor explain that labradors are the worst kind of all dogs when it comes to eating. They eat just about anything, even swallow a huge chunk of things leading to an expensive visit with the doctor! She isn't all too well today so took her to the vet for more observations and the well of my pocket is becoming dry.
Hey, it's a good day! Despite the illnesses in the family, it's a good day!
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (niv)
As our great Lord says, "..in all things.." refers to any incidences, whether positive or negative. He works for the good in these situations and it's for His great purposes. Many of us don't understand and ask the "why" question. Though, the affliction we take in on our lives can be very painful but it's something that's everlasting. The faithfuls (Christians) in this life understands that "nothing can happen to him/her", that is, his/her saved inner selves. In other words, it is, to the saved person, his/her reaction to life's woes, is a controlled response. Paul says,
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11 (niv)
Regardless of any circumstances, it's a good day! That's the attitude we need, everyday!
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19 (niv)
We shouldn't look to others to make us happy. Have you heard of the phrase,
In other words, if you meet my needs then I'll meet yours, or vice versa. But what happens when others we know and love don't meet our needs? You'll know it because the feelings and emotions all begins within you. You're the one that triggered whatever you're feeling. When my needs are not met, we boil, fume, irritate, and become bitter! The external problem is not the problem. The problem is, "me". There's either a little or big, "I, me, my" in us. What's in it for me? What about my "needs"?
But the truth is, what we often call "needs" normally better fit the category of "wants". We want others to respect us, admire us, need us. But are those true needs? No one can meet all our needs aside from God Himself. If you depend on a spouse, a friend, a brother to meet your "needs", you set yourself up for trouble. When you expect the "other" to meet your needs and they don't, you're in for a emotional wreck! The relationship becomes an unhealthy, codependent one. This is one of the reasons why friendship or relationship isn't intact.
So your fulfillment is not the job of someone else. God has given this job to you, and only you can shoulder it. "And my God will meet all your needs.." (Phil. 4:19) You are the one who cooperates with Him and receives His riches as He gives them.
The truth is, no one can "make" you happy. Not a spouse. Not a friend. Not a boss or a neighbor or a minister. And you, and not someone else, choose how you will react to what life throws at you. You, and no one else, decide what you will do when someone pushes your "fear button".
Each of us have a "fear" of something. "Fear" of rejection, disappointment, lack of control, and hundreds of other emotional signs. When we're rejected, the "others" pressed our "fear button" enabling us to do the "fear dance" (irritated emotions, outbursts, anger). So it is our responsibility to make sure that we don't do the "fear dance". If the "others" do not meet my needs, for all I care, I am satisfied and relieved that it is, "GOD" who meets all of my needs. I pray that it is the same for you. Don't let "others" let you down when they do not meet your needs.
You can choose to think about life and how you handle your emotions (fear buttons, fear dance) and do a different kind of dance, the Godly dance. It takes tremendous amount of humility to simply allow whomever tries to push your button to fade away. I am not saying that we become a cold and impassive person of God. We forgive. We listen. We ask questions for the reason for it in a Christian way. This will determine your level of happiness and fulfillment. If you do the "fear dance", don't expect happiness to swirl around in your life.
Apostle Paul wrote, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18 (niv)
Yes! It depends on you. The external problem is never the problem. The real problem lies within you. Surprised? So am I! You behave the way you want to behave because you're not getting what you need/want! Instead, we must simply remove the "Fear Buttons" inside us and live a productive life with God; dancing with God!
And remember, this is only a very small portion of the whole book, "DNA of Relationships" by Gary Smalley. The world is watching us in how we behave. How is your relationship with your co-worker, your family, your friends, your children, your spouse and the most important of all, God?
(Bloggers, feel free to make comments along with my blogs.)
Friday, June 03, 2005
Satan has kept God's children very busy. He knows how to keep them away from doing the "e-thing". He knows God's plan and does an excellent job by counter-attacking on His children bombarding them with self-centeredness. Satan puts "fear of rejection" in the hearts of God's children. Now, I am blogging this to you giving you a couple of simple verses that we need to put in heart.
"..on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." Matthew 16:18 (niv)
Jesus is building His church. He laid the foundation (Eph. 2:20) and we're building on it. Jesus always keeps His promises. He said, "..I will build my church.." Is the Lord's church in your area growing? Are His children (members of the church family) in His church serving out the Lord's purposes (evangelism) and working in building His church? In Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.", indicates that if "Christ" is in you, He wants to use your life to build His church. He is NOT done with the work. He continues to build to this day!
Problem: if you're not reaching out to the lost souls in the world (especially D.C. or your area), you're preventing your Lord (Jesus Christ) in you from sharing the good news (gospel). You're not fulfilling one of five of the Lord's purposes [worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and mission (evangelism)].
Reason: fear of rejection, timing, too busy, it's the preacher's job, I don't have enough knowledge to share the good news, suppose they ask me a difficult question(s) that I am unable to answer, and it's not "my" gift. These comments/thought allows Satan, sitting on the throne of Hades, the opportunity to overcome you. But Jesus said, "..and the gates of Hades will not overcome it [while He is building His church!]." Church means a group of believers, ekklessia, the called out, saints. God is interested in men and women who is not easily swayed by the wind of negativity when they do all they can to share the good news with them, hence, not overcome by Satan's arsenals. So, suppose you do get a rejection, what do you do?
"And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." Mark 6:11 (niv)
Of course! There will always be a rejection! They may not listen to you! You don't have to wring their arm to get them to "believe". That's not your job. It's God's business. You may lose a good friend because you told them the truth! Even your family may reject you because you have left their "religious tradition".
"Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?" Galatians 4:16 (niv)
Not only they become your enemy, they have turned themselves against the Holy One!
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:28 (niv)
"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20 (niv)
Jesus said, "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." John 4:35 (niv)
Go and harvest D.C. and the rest of the cities in the world!